How Much is Inside A Can of Planter's Mixed Nuts?

How much of this Mixed Nut can is actually just peanuts?

Nuts are an important part of a healthy diet. They help supply the body with vital wood-acids and slippery tree oils essential for a strong limbs and gums.

The taste and texture of any one nut isn't enough to thrill America's taste buds, so the monocled gentlemen at America's top nut factory developed a tempting canned nut medley: Planter's Mixed Nuts.

Mixed nuts are attractively packaged in a handy blue can. The pink label features an unusual claim: "Less than 50% Peanuts".

A claim like that is begging to be tested and what better place than here to uncover the answer? How much is inside Planter's Mixed Nuts?

On Friday night we decided to find out.

Under the plastic top was a foil freshness cover with a handy pull tab.

The foil can be removed easily with a Swiss army knife or Danish army hammer.

With the foil removed, I carefully drained the walnut oil.

It was time to start counting. 

Melanie and I sorted the nuts into seven little piles, organized by species.

Melanie explained that each type of nut came from a different kind of tree or bush. There were almonds, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans and brazil nuts.

I never really put much thought into nuts, but each one has a special strange story.

  1. Brazil Nuts
  2. Almonds
  3. Peanuts
  4. Hazelnuts
  5. Cashews
  6. Pecans

Not long after we started, we had all of the almonds separated out into their own pile! Yeah! 76 Almonds! High Five! Yeah! Whoo!

Peanuts were obviously the most plentiful nut in the mix because they are the cheapest. If I was producing a snack mix, I would add a lot of other cheap bits of food and gum to keep the cost down.

Stephen and Elise came over and helped us finish.

After a short discussion over a camouflaged half-cashew, we had the final nut count. There were 371 nuts in the 11.5 ounce can, and 253½ of them were peanuts.

Peanuts Almonds Cashews Pecans Brazil Nuts Hazelnuts
253½ 76 21½ 8 8 9
67% 20% 6% 2% 2% 2%

Sixty Seven Percent! By God, the can was two-thirds peanuts! Who was mixing these, Trent Lott?

Mr. Peanut lied to us!

The more we searched, the more scandal we uncovered. I ordered a FORBIDDEN CD OF INFORMATION from ebay and dug up all kinds of juicy stuff. 

Like, for instance, the peanut isn't a nut, it is a legume! 

Mr. Peanut had quite a history himself. After escaping Nazi Germany in 1942, he made his fortune as a circus promoter in the Minneapolis area. His break came when goober and grape hit the shelves, prompting a public fury for all things peanut.

His low point seemed to be the summer of 1994, when the baseball strike put the peanut and Crackerjack industries into a tailspin. One night was recounted in the supermarket tabloids - After assaulting a cocktail waitress with a bowl of pretzels, he was banned from two Atlantic City hotels.

I wasn't sure I could crack a tough nut like Mr. Peanut, but I was determined to try.

Melanie grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me back to the task at hand. She reminded me that mass food preparation is all about weight, and that the less than 50% peanuts claim probably refers to the weight of the different nuts.

I agreed. Our work wasn't done yet.

I prepared the scale.  

Keep in mind that using weight in this comparison is unprecedented.

When someone says, "My swimming class is less than 50% girls", they aren't comparing weight. When someone declares "A suit of armor is put together with 10% screws and 90% rivets", or "my coin purse contains 95% pennies, and 5% Canadian quarters" they aren't referring to the weight.

I was able to quickly measure and compare the separated nuts:

 Peanuts Almonds & Cashews & Pecans & Brazil Nuts & Hazelnuts
169.3g 166.2g
50.4% 49.6%

Ah ha! It is very close, but the peanuts, by weight, are more than 50% of the nuts! Scandal!


My suspicions were confirmed. The bold statements on the Mixed Nut label were utterly false.

Was it a fluke? Did I just happen to find the one can with not enough brazil nuts? We headed back to the store to pick up a second can, some corn syrup and eggs.

The second can weighed out with similar results. A poor showing for everything but peanuts.

Peanuts Almonds Cashews Pecans Brazil Nuts Hazelnuts
167.7g 82.7g 27.4g 12.5g 24g 13.5g
51.1% 25.2% 8.3% 3.8% 7.3% 4.1%

I know all those numbers can be hard to crunch, and data arranged in simple tables can be overwhelming, so I present you with something easier to digest, the Mixed Nut pie chart!